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I have just spent an interesting couple of days at CRM Evolution in New York, where much of the conversation related - as it did last year - to "Social CRM". In one of the panel discussions, representatives from leading players such as SAP, Microsoft and Accenture seemed pretty confident that the thinking has been done on "Social CRM". We know what it is / what is needed; the challenge now is just execution.
But do we know - or is the CRM industry missing the point?
"Customer Relationship Management". It got abbreviated many years ago, so now 'Social' comes along and gets bolted on - linguistically - as "Social CRM". And that linguistic "bolting-on" is reflected in the strategies being pushed by the big guns: it's CRM just as you've always known it, but with Social channels bolted-on.
Imagine if we had never abbreviated Customer Relationship Management. How would you read (aloud) "Social Customer Relationship Management"?
Is it Social CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT...
... or SOCIAL CUSTOMER Relationship Management?
To me, the latter is much more interesting, strategically. The challenge is not how to accommodate another channel of communication with existing customers, under our existing model. The challenge is how do brands and businesses manage relationships with Social Customers? How does CRM evolve to recognize and relate to the Social Customer as part of a network of influence and relationships; as an activist participant in brand formation and communication rather than a reactive product consumer?
There's been the odd attempt at focusing offers on clients according to their Klout score and similar ideas, but Klout can be gamed massively, and even if we could get access to robust inflence metrics, is the Social Customer readyto accept the privacy and data protection implications that would come with attempting to recognize his or her Social / network impact? Would legislators accept approaches that offer better attention to individuals that are influential on wealthy target market segments, knowing that those individuals are likely to be wealthy and priviledged themselves. Deliberate, explicit, programmed-in, priviledged treatment for rich white males....? Hmmm. Maybe not.
The thinking on "Social CRM" is not all done. It's barely started. Enjoy the ride!